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Abram Lyle and his Midas touch

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“Out of the strong came forth sweetness.” This passage, together with the image of the carcass of a lion and a swarm of bees, intrigued me as a small boy when watching my mother at work with a green and gold tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

Used in a variety of baking recipes and desserts, this kitchen icon was established 125 years ago in 1883. The design of the tin, which has remained almost unchanged since 1885, forms the world’s oldest brand.

Golden syrup was formulated by the Scottish businessman Abram Lyle, when he discovered that a by-product of the sugar cane refined at his factory in Plaistow, East London, could be made into a delicious spread and sweetener.

Lyle’s product is a thick, amber-coloured syrup. It consists of glucose and fructose syrup, produced by inversion, which has been blended with sucrose syrup. The mixture crystallises less readily than a pure sucrose solution.

The fructose content gives it a sweeter taste than an equivalent solution of sucrose. It was first sold to Lyle’s employees and local customers in wooden casks.

The slogan is a reference to the Biblical story in chapter 14 of the Book of Judges, in which Samson was on his way to the land of the Philistines to meet his future wife. During the journey he killed a lion and, later, upon passing the same spot when travelling to marry, he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a honeycomb within the carcass.

Samson turned this into a riddle at the wedding: “Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness.”

Although it is not known exactly why this image and slogan were chosen, Lyle was a religious man, and it has been suggested they refer to the strength of either the Lyle company or the tins in which golden syrup was sold.

In 1921 Lyle’s business merged with the sugar-refining firm founded by Sir Henry Tate to become Tate & Lyle. The company currently sells a million tins of golden syrup each month.

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the product this year, Tate & Lyle is selling the product in limited-edition gold tins.

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From: Beyond pharmacy blog

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